Every bedroom in my flat has a full-length mirror. My little sister and I have great swathes of mirror attached to our walls- although I think hers is less flattering than mine, so always pop in and double-check a new outfit in her room before I leave. Our flatmate’s mirror is leant precariously against his chest of drawers, because none of us have any real idea about how to attach it to the wall.
‘Can I look in your mirror for a second?’ my flatmate asked yesterday. ‘Of course,’ I replied. Having a full-length mirror, and by full-length I mean properly full-length; and situated so that you can see your entire self, even in shoes and a hat, say before a wedding, or Ascot, or another fancy event I am 100% prepared for but just awaiting my invitation to, is one of the great signifiers of my recently acquired adulthood.
Having a flatmate who regularly pops in to look in it is not.
This mirror issue is not unique to my flat. ‘I don’t have a full-length mirror,’ my friend complained to me a few days ago. ‘That sucks,’ I replied distractedly, trying to work out if I had already seen this particular episode of ‘Parenthood’.
‘Parenthood’, a TV series based on the 1989 movie starring Steve Martin, is called ‘that sad one with all the people’ by my flatmate. It’s not an inaccurate description of the show. Obviously, I love it. My friend was still talking. ‘So it’s really hard for me, sexting-wise,’ she continued. ‘What?’ I asked, now fully-engaged. ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘Sexting,’ my friend continued comfortably. ‘When you don’t have a full-length mirror. I had to borrow my flatmate’s. Which was fine, although explaining what I wanted to borrow it for was slightly awkward.’ ‘Maybe I’m more grown-up than I realized,’ I thought to myself. ‘Although I don’t actually know what my flatmate is using my full-length mirror for.’
At university I tried terribly hard to be frugal. Unfortunately, I am incoherently foolish with money, so would spend all my term’s allowance on a fur-lined après-ski coat, and later find myself wandering forlornly about Tescos, wondering why everything cost so much money.
I decided to ‘save money’ by turning my back on the over-indulgent fripperies of ‘named beauty products’ or ‘shampoos made for humans’, and instead proudly spent 56p on a blue viscous liquid which purported to be an ‘all-purpose washer’.
‘Look,’ I said happily, brandishing my vat of clean. ‘And you probably thought girls squandered all their money on fancy beauty regimes.’ My male housemates looked at me in alarm, and one of them slowly reached under our kitchen sink, to pull out a ominously similar-looking blue viscous liquid.
Naturally, I refused to let their bourgeois conceptions of ‘what is fit for humans’ deter me, and spent at least a week screamingly itchy, washing myself with what seemed to be re-packaged oven cleaner.
All grown-up now, yesterday I dragged my friend to Boots. ‘I want something that says, ‘Wake up!’ but in a calm and soothing way,’ I told her, scanning the shower gels. My friend looked bewildered, and suggested a Radox gel. ‘Oh no,’ I told her kindly. ‘I can’t use Radox products. They have odd openings on their bottles. It confuses me terribly.’
I was close to giving up when I spotted that they were selling Original Source shower gels for £1. ‘Perfect,’ I said to my friend, picking up a luridly yellow bottle. ‘It is great being a grown-up.’
My housemate asked me yesterday why I smelled so strongly of Cif, but seeing as that’s a brand-named household product, I’m taking it to mean that I am pretty much a designer-infused grown-up dream.
‘You know,’ I said thoughtfully to my next-door neighbours, aged 7 years old and 9 years old respectively. ‘The best thing about being a grown-up is that no-one tells you off any more.’ They nodded sagely. We had met outside our houses, because I was going to my friend’s leaving dinner, and they were showing me how if you take a thorn off a rose and put it on your nose, it looks like a rhinoceros.
Their Mum came outside at precisely the moment my flatmate arrived home from work. ‘What are you doing?’ Both women asked simultaneously. We tried to explain about the rhinoceros discovery, but they didn’t seem particularly interested. ‘I’m very sorry,’ I said to the girls before I left for my dinner. ‘I can’t come over tomorrow-I’m temping for my Mother’s law firm. But I’ll come over on Thursday and show you how to do somersaults on the trampoline.’
I could tell from her expression that their Mother was as thrilled as the girls were at this prospect.
I am equally excited. There is nothing better than the adulation of small children. (Except possibly when they can’t finish their chips, and they let you eat them). I have been surreptitiously practicing headstands and forward rolls on my bed, in a hastily-devised training programme. I had to hastily dismount yesterday when my flatmate came into my bedroom.
‘You know you’re going to bounce those kids right off the trampoline?’ She asked me. ‘As in, if you bounce with them on it, they’re unlikely to survive.’
‘Nonsense,’ I replied robustly. ‘Just wait til I show them how to use a skateboard while they bounce.’ My flatmate sighed and left my bedroom. ‘Just remember you’re the grown-up,’ She told me. ‘I know!’ I replied delightedly. ‘And so their mum won’t tell me off!’
I have invited my Mother to an event. ‘I would like to invite you to this event,’ I emailed her last month. ‘Let me know if you’re free- I think the tickets will sell out pretty fast, so I’ve already got our two.’ I sat back smugly and waited for the glory that was sure to ensue. See, the event is this:
http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event130829.html, and I’m pretty sure now that I’ve invited my Mother to it I have secured my place as the favourite. ‘This will be such a nice, bonding thing for the two of us to do,’ I thought as I searched my floor for some clean socks. ‘And now that I’ve generously paid for the tickets, I think Mum will finally see me as a proper grown-up. And possibly take me out to dinner.’
My Mother replied. ‘Darling, I would love to come. Can you get another ticket please? I would like to bring my gentleman caller.’ I robustly ignored this email, and called my little sister. ‘I do not want her gentleman caller to come,’ I whined down the phone in an exceptionally grown-up fashion. ‘This was meant to be a fun thing we did just the two of us.’ My little sister encouraged me to talk to our Mother. I took a more sensible approach, and ignored her.
The event is next week, and this morning my Mother sent me another email. It was titled, ‘the 25th May’, and read as follows:
1. Was this a real invitation?
2. If yes can ****** come? (she obviously didn’t censor his name, but I am. He doesn’t deserve any more attention)
3. What time does it start and end?
4. Will you require dinner afterwards?
Let me know
It seems my excellent plan to ignore this problem has not worked, and I need to take a different approach. So, as a mature and reasonable grown-up, I have written this blogpost. I think you’ll all agree that this was the most adult thing to do.
I would like to start this post by stating categorically that I really really like pancakes.
(I like eggs and carbs the most, and this combines both of them). I have no issue with sweet or savoury pancakes, thick or thin pancakes, overdone or undercooked pancakes.
If pancakes were a political party or a sexual preference, I would be a card carrying member of their club. What I hate is pancake day. Guess what? You’re a grown up! You get to choose, every single day, what you put into your mouth. You can eat nothing but pancakes all year long if you so choose. Or never let their fluffy, comforting goodness anywhere near you. The only thing you cannot, in good conscience do, is squeal like a 5 year old on Christmas morning over the idea of a day where you can only eat one food product. You people make me look back on Valentine’s Day with nostalgia. And worry terribly about what you will be like on Halloween.
I call one of my oldest and closest friends. ‘So you see,’ I begin. ‘I was queuing to get my Young Person’s railcard replaced.’
She interrupts me. ‘You’re not a young person,’ she says baldly. I am shocked into silence.
I have no pithy comeback. I have entirely forgotten the point of my story. (I am aware that a lack of wit and memory are not imperative in the old, but nevertheless, it’s not a great sign). ‘Well,’ I say finally. ‘I did not expect this.’ (I genuinely did not. I was calling mostly to check my friend hadn’t gotten better Christmas presents than me). I finish talking to my friend and put the matter out of my mind entirely. (She got a handbag, but I got new shoes and two dresses, so I think it’s OK).
A few days later I am calling a different friend about tights. ‘I’m wearing a navy blue skirt,’ I tell her proudly. My friend is a little confused, but congratulates me politely. ‘And I’m wondering what colour tights I’m meant to wear?’
‘Oh,’ my friend replies, relieved. ‘Black is perfectly fine.’ (I think she was a little worried I was now going to call every morning for approbation on getting dressed by myself). ‘In fact,’ she continued. ‘Black and navy are very chic. What time are you getting to the pub?’ ‘Well,’ I say graciously. ‘Now that you’ve sorted out this tights thing for me, I can be there whenever you’d like.’ My friend explains that the ‘grown-ups’ will be there from 6.30 til 8pm, and that we can come whenever we’d like. ‘Um,’ I begin tentatively. ‘You do know that we are grown-ups?’ My first friend was right. I’m not a young person. I quietly pull on my thick black tights and pop along to the pub at 6.30.
‘I’m doing the most grown-up thing you could imagine,’ I tell my friend as she picks up the phone. There is a worried pause. ‘What is it?’ she asks slowly. ‘I’m picking up my dry-cleaning,’ I tell her smugly.
‘I’m walking down the road with those lovely plastic covering things slung casually over my arm, chatting to you on my phone. People probably think I’m a celebrity.’ I nod kindly to a gentleman as I pass him on the pavement. ‘I’m very bad at dry-cleaning,’ my friend tells me apologetically. ‘I leave it for ages in a pile and never get round to taking it to the dry-cleaners.’Aha!’ I say, delighted. ‘And then, because you’re got loads of things, they give you with a massive bill.’
‘Indeed,’ my friend says sadly. ‘I’m terribly good at dry-cleaning,’ I inform her. ‘I feel like it’s really something I’ve gotten a handle on, vis-à-vis this whole being a grown up thing.’ There is an inarticulate yelp from the other end of the phone. ‘Oh,’ I say quickly. ‘I wouldn’t let it worry you. There’s plenty of things I’m still getting to grips with.’ ‘No, no,’ my friend replies. ‘I’m doing some normal laundry, as it happens, and I’ve managed to skip past one of the stages of the cycle. Did you even know that was possible?’
‘Oh of course,’ I told my friend helpfully. ‘It is possible to do almost anything with a washing machine. Jam it so it won’t give you your clothes back, let it run with no washing powder in, stop it before it’s drained, skip the spin cycle so your clothes are still dripping…’ There is another pause. ‘Well,’ I say finally. ‘I suppose you can see why I’m so keen on dry-cleaning.’
I’m off to lunch with a former teacher. I am aware that the term is ‘old’ teacher, but this teacher is not old (and I’m still a terrible suck-up). We’re going to a pub just by my old school (the school cares less about the ageing process). I am terribly excited. I have passed this pub thousands of times. I have been inside it precisely once, at lunchtime, after the very last day of school. I was dressed as a school girl. (Our school didn’t have a uniform, we had chosen voluntarily to dress up as school girls. My hair was in pigtails. It seems I was channeling Heidi.
A sort of lightly smashed Heidi. Who was absolutely thrilled to be in the pub on a school day). I was drinking southern comfort and lemonade, which I told everyone was ‘a very refreshing summer drink’. The barman did not seem to care as much as I had assumed he would. I was 18 years old, but being in the pub the teachers frequented was all a bit too adult for me. Someone ordered crisps, which I refused to eat in a bid to seem more ‘grown-up’. I was an idiot. Luckily, I am getting a second chance. Today I will be far more grown-up. Gosh, I hope I get to pop into the staffroom. I hear they have excellent biscuits.